Message from Rev. Moore – February 2019

“it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
(1Cor. 13:6-7 ESV)

We have all seen what has happened at the conclusion of the annual March for Life in Washington DC., where a short video clip was posted online to the internet, seemingly showing a group of white teenagers from a Catholic High school from Kentucky who had attended the March for Life rally, mocking, provoking, and teasing a Native American man as he beats his drum and chants his prayers. Initially the narrative was that these boys accosted this Native American man. Why? Based on what? The boys were white, teenagers, pro-lifers, Catholics, and supporters of the president (evidence by their Make America Great Again hats). However, when a video is later released showing that in fact the boys were the victims— that the Native American Man and a third party (“Black Hebrews” shouting profanities) were the ones that confronted the boys and verbally abused them, that these boys were accosted by adults— then the narrative flipped. Many pundits admitted their error and rush to judgement, while others doubled down with the original narrative. Tuesday on the View Whoopi Goldberg said:

“Many people admitted they made snap judgments before these other facts came in. But is it that we just instantly say that’s what it is based on what we see in that moment and then have to walk stuff back when it turns out we’re wrong? Why is that? Why do we keep making the same mistake?”

Goldberg is asking an honest question and good question. Why is that? Why do we assume the worst in people? There is a psychological phenomenon called “confirmation bias.” In an article from Psychology Today entitled “Wishful Thinking” it defines confirmation bias this way:

“Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.”

There is a big difference between what we like to be true and what is true. What we like to be true is based on the bias of love of self. In contradistinction, what is true is based on the bias of love of God and neighbor. The former is the judgement of prejudice, hate, and judgmentalism that come in many forms: e.g., racism, ageism, antisemitism, male-chauvinism, feminism, etc. The latter is right judgment based on love. This is what the apostle Paul means when he refers to the judgment of love, love that “believes all things.” Theologians call this the “judgement of charity.” The judgment of charity gives people the benefit of the doubt. Contrary to confirmation bias, judgement of charity celebrates the truth, doesn’t make quick judgments (i.e., quick to hear the facts first and slow to speak on the facts, e.g., James 1:9), and doesn’t think the worst of people, but thinks the best, the best unless, and only unless, the facts do not confirm one’s bias of love. The reason why we assume the worst in people, and are quick to judge, is because of our bias of hate toward the other and love of self (and others like us). In short, it’s because we are sinners; it’s because humanity is radically corrupt. Confirmation bias is just one aspect of our radically corrupt nature.

But the good news is that there is a cure for this sin, like all other sins. The cure is the gospel. Not only does Jesus forgive us of our confirmation biases, but Jesus also purges and purifies us of our confirmation biases with the truth of the gospel. The truth is this: if Jesus could love without his personal biases (being a Jew) distorting how he viewed other people (Gentiles), then can’t we also commit our ways to Christ’s way? In this life we will never totally be free of our false judgments of prejudice, hate, and judgmentalism, but by the grace of God we can fight against this temptation, knowing love “hopes all things.”

In Christ,
Pastor Carl

Message from Rev. Moore – December 2018

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ““Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”“ 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us.)
(Mat 1:18-23 ESV)

Have you ever considered the beautiful irony of the birth of Christ—the Eternal Son of God becoming man, the doctrine of the Incarnation? What is the doctrine of the Incarnation? It’s the biblical teaching of the God-man, Jesus Christ; it’s the biblical teaching that Jesus is both God and man, yet one person. The early church considered the Incarnation such an essential teaching that they formulated what has come to be the Chalcedonian Creed, a statement of faith concerning what we must believe to be a Christian, and what we are not to believe as a Christian. The Creed states this:

Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D)
“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”
There are five main truths with which the creed of Chalcedon summarized the biblical teaching on the Incarnation:
1. Jesus has two natures — He is God and man.
2. Each nature is full and complete — He is fully God and fully man.
3. Each nature remains distinct—Jesus’ human nature is not divine, and divine human.
4. Christ is only one Person.
5. Things that are true of only one nature are nonetheless true of the Person of Christ.

During this Christmas season, we’ll be taking a break from the Sermon on the Mount; I will continue the Sermon on the Mount after Christmas. During the month of December, I’ll be preaching on the nature and purpose of the Incarnation, that is, the biblical nature and purpose of Christmas. Come and join us, and invite a friend to church!

In Christ,
Pastor Carl

Message from Rev. Moore – November 2018

In his best-selling book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller, former pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, shares a story of a woman in his congregation who was learning how the grace extended to us through Christ’s work on the cross can actually be more challenging than religion. He writes:

“Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights”—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

This distinction is not only helpful, but it’s biblical: gospel (Christ’s righteousness) and religion (self-righteousness). The gospel not only saves us, but it puts demands on us. The great Reformer, Martin Luther, experienced this gospel-driven demand from God. What was this demand? Luther said this:

“Take me, for example. I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept (cf. Mark 4:26-29) or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends, Philip and Amsdorf; the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing: the Word did everything. Had I desired to foment trouble…. I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn’t have been safe. But what would it have been? Mere fools play. I did nothing: I let the Word do it’s work.”

The gospel-driven demand from God is the same for us as it was for Luther: preach and teach God’s Word. We are to preach and teach it to our family, friends, coworkers, anyone with whom we come in contact. When we do this, we too are Reformers in our generation!

God Bless and thanks,
Pastor Carl

Message from Rev. Moore – February 2018

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

Since June 2017, I have been preaching through the parables. During Christmas and Easter I usually stop and preach on relevant texts on the topic of Easter or Christmas, but all in all I am an expository preacher. What is expository preaching?

Expository preaching is distinct from lectionary preaching and topical preaching. Lectionary preaching, i.e., preaching through a church calendar, is dominant in Catholic and Liberal, Mainline Protestant traditions. Topical preaching is dominant in Evangelical circles. In contrast to these is Expository preaching. Expository is dominant in the Reformed tradition. Expository preaching is a Reformed way of preaching. Expository preaching was the primary approach by preachers in the first three centuries in the Church and during the Reformation up to about one hundred years ago. From John Calvin (16th century) to Charles Hodge at Princeton Seminary (19th century) expositional preaching reigned.

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Message from Rev. Moore – October 2017

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9ESV)

For the last few Newsletters, I briefly shared with you the Five-Solas. If you recall, the Five-Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Medieval Church of Rome during that time. Sola is Latin meaning “alone” or “only.” The phrases are:

  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
  • Sola Fide, through Faith alone.
  • Sola Gratia, by Grace alone.
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
  • Soli Deo Gloria, to the Glory of God alone.

In preparation for Reformation Sunday this October 29th (in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation), I shared with you the first of the solas: Scripture alone. These two months (October and November), we’ll take a look at the second and third of the solas: Faith alone and Grace alone! What does Faith and Grace alone mean? Faith is the manner by which a sinner receives God’s gift of salvation. Grace is the manner by which a sinner is given salvation by God. Grace is God’s giving. Faith is our receiving. And both grace and faith are gifts from God. Let me explain further.

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